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Full text of "A discourse delivered in the Second Presbyterian Church"



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A DISCOURSE 



SECOND PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ELIZABETH, N.J. 



DELIVERED IN THE 




August 6th, 1863, 



ON OCCASION OF 






THE PUBLIC THANKSGIVING 



APPOINTED BY 



ABRAHAM LINCOLN, 



PRESIDENT OF THE KNIT Ell STATES, 



TO COMMEMORATE THE SIGNAL VICTORIES 
VOUCHSAFED TO THE FEDERAL ARMS. 



f ) 



Rev. DAVID MAGIE, D.D. 




DMD-fTorh : 



PRINTED BY FRANCIS HART & CO. 63 CORTLANDT STREET. 



1863. 



■6=*-* 




A 



S 



DELIVERED IN THE 



SECOND PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH. ELIZABETH, N.J. 



August 6th, 1863, 



ON OCCASION OF 



THE PUBLIC THANKSGIVING 



APPOINTED BY 



ABRAHAM LINCOLN, 

'RESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATJ^C^^' ^'tf* 

TO COMMEMORATE THE SIGNAL VICTORIES 
VOUCHSAFED TO THE FEDERAL ARMS. 




Rev. DAVID MAGIE, D.D. 



$M0-!orfe : 

PRINTED BY FRANCIS HART &. CO. 63 CORTLANDT STREET. 

1863. 



Elizabeth, August 6, 1863. 
Dear Sir: 

The undersigned having heard, with great pleasure, the sermon 

delivered by you this day, on the occasion of the National Thanksgiving, 

?ind believing that its publication will greatly serve the cause of truth and 

of the Union, do respectfully request, a copy for publication. 

Very truly yours. 

F. W. FOOTE. JAMES C. WOODRUFF. 

D. H. PIERSON, AUGUSTUS C. KELLOGG, 

A. W. KELLOGG. M. W. HALSEY, 

J. B. BURNET, .1. S. CRANE, 

J. W. PRICE. JOHN McCORD, 

WILMOT WILLIAMS. 

To the Rev. Dr. Magie. 



Gentlemen : 

Your request, though entirely unexpected, is especially pleasant to 
me, as it represents four of the churches of our citv, and I accede to it, not 
only as I am thus afforded an opportunity of leaving, in a permanent form, 
my views of public affairs, but because I hope to be of some little use to 
my fellow citizens, in removing misapprehension and preventing discour- 
agement. 

With sentiments of high regard, yours, 

DAVID MAGIE. 

Messrs. Foote, Pierson, &c. 



REASONS FOE THANKSGIVING. 



The right hand of the Lord is exalted ; the right hand of 
the Lord doeth valiantly. 

Psalm rxvm : lfi. 



As good citizens you have read and re-read the excellent 
proclamation of our Chief Magistrate. It has been your 
privilege to ponder with un dissembled gratitude to God, 
the wonderful successes which have recently crowned 
our arms; mingle your sympathies with the sufferers 
in this needless and cruel rebellion ; offer your earnest 
prayers that God would change the hearts of the insur- 
gents : and devoutly ask that the whole nation might be 
led, through paths of repentance and submission to the 
divine will, back to the perfect enjoyment of union and 
fraternal peace. This you have already done and are 
daily T doing, but now you are assembled to perform 
the same duty in a more public manner. In conformity 
with the President's appointment, endorsed and confirmed 
by the Governor of our own state, we are assembled to 
join in a more open and emphatic acknowledgment of 
the goodness of God, and present our supplications for 



6 REASONS FOR THANKSGIVING. 

the return of tranquillity to our bleeding and distracted 
country. 

The service is certainly called for, and the words just 
repeated, " The right hand of the Lord is exalted, the 
right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly," give just such 
direction to our thoughts as they ought to take. Nothing 

could be more beautiful than the sentiment here con- 

i 

veyed, and nothing could be more beautifully expressed. 
It takes the entire glory of any good achieved from the 
creature, whose breath is in his nostrils, and who is not 
to be accounted of, and gives it where alone it is due, to 
the Creator. 

Only little more than three months ago, we were 
summoned as a nation to unite in fasting and prayer. 
Disappointments, delays and defeats had spread a degree 
of gloom over the public mind, so that men usually 
strong and of good courage, seemed for the time 
depressed; and this gloom was subsequently deepened 
by ;ui invasion, skilfully planned, and of most portentous 
aspects. But within the last five and thirty days how 
surprisingly has the tide of affairs turned. One exploit 
has followed another in such rapid succession that every 
patriotic bosom is filled with gratitude, and we are all 
ready to say to each other, "O give thanks unto the 
Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endureth forever. 
Serve him with gladness and come before his presence 
with singing." 

The message is specific, referring to the signal victories 
which God has lately vouchsafed to our army and navy; 



REASONS FOR THANKSGIVING. 3 

but it will not be deemed amiss if, in the following 1 
discourse, I take a somewhat wider range. My wish is 
to set before honest and thoughtful minds such reasons 
for gratitude as are suggested by the whole subject of 
the war. It is my design, in pursuing this course, to do 
what in me lies to decide the doubtful, encourage the 
timid, and lead all to see that we do well to-day to 
enter the gates of the Lord with thanksgiving, and his 
courts with praise. 

1. The Cause in which we are embarked, we have 
good reason to be assured, is a just and righteous one. 
It was not to oppress our southern neighbors, or wrest 
from them a single privilege guaranteed by the Consti- 
tution, that the sword was drawn in the first instance. 
Never was there a clearer case of simple resistance to 
aggression. We stand, in this respect, on a noble pre- 
eminence, and may challenge the world to prove that Ave 
are wrong. Were it otherwise, had we conspired against 
what are called the Confederate States, to arrest their 
course in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and the pursuit 
of happiness, or had we neglected to fulfil towards them 
all the obligations imposed upon us by our National 
Compact, it would be but solemn mockery to raise a 
voice in thanksgiving to-day, no matter how great our 
successes. Examine the Journals of Congress from the 
beginning, including the whole history of Executive acts, 
and see if they do not furnish a perfectly clear record. 
Much, I know, is said by the South itself, and by south- 
ern sympathizers, of the oppression of the North, and we 



8 REASONS FOR THANKSGIVING. 

need to pause, even at so late a day, to enquire into the 
truth of the constantly reiterated allegations. Did this 
dreadful war begin by those who struck the fatal blow 
in defense of their own rights, or was it a wanton attack 
on the rights of others 1 

You have heard the only true answer a thousand 
times, and yet it is necessary, for the sake of disproving 
false assertions, to repeat it again and again. Recur, 
then, to the acknowledged fact, that the control of the 
government of the country had, for years and years, 
been almost exclusively in the hands of Southern men, 
or of those openly friendly to Southern views and inter- 
ests, and its patronage and power were wielded very 
much in accordance with their avowed wishes. For this 
end, and without pretense of disguise, compromises were 
made and compromises were annulled, lines of demarka- 
tion were drawn, and lines were blotted out. Concession 
upon concession was granted to soften the asperity, 
conciliate the regard, and prevent the execution of the 
threats of men who were forever affirming that they 
must have and would have what they demanded, or 
dismember this happy and prosperous commonwealth. 
Often was it foretold by the wise and the true, and now 
it is known to be a fact, that their purpose was either to 
rule or ruin, either to subject the nation to their own 
selfish designs or destroy it. The charge is a serious 
one, and yet the testimony to substantiate it is as clear 
as the sun in the firmament, and must be brought for- 
ward, for it sets the rebellion in its only fair and proper 



REASONS FOR THANKSGIVING. 9 

light. That you may see that my language is no 
stronger than facts justify, let me turn you for a moment, 
to evidence furnished by a leading man of themselves. 
Mr. Stephens, since made the Vice-President of the 
Southern Confederacy, warned the Georgia Convention, 
called to consider the propriety of seceding, of the folly 
and wickedness of any such suicidal act. "Pause, I en- 
treat you," his very words are, "and think for a moment 
what reasons you can give that will satisfy yourselves, 
in calmer times, or what reasons you can give to your 
fellow-sufferers, for the calamities which secession will 
surely bring upon us? What cause or overt act can yon 
name or point to, on which to rest the plea of justification? 
What right of ours lias the North assailed ? What interest 
of the South has it invaded? What justice has been de- 
nied ns ? What claim, founded in right, has ever been 
withheld? Can any of you to-day, name one act, 
deliberately and purposely done by the government at 
Washington, of which the South has the right to com- 
plain? I challenge the answer. Now, to attempt to 
overthrow such a government, under which we have 
lived for three-quarters of a, century, and gained our 
wealth and standing as a nation, is a height of madness, 
folly, and wickedness, to which I can neither lend my 
sanction nor my vote." Remember this, my friends, when 
you hear men, northern born, and northern bred, excus- 
ing the rebels as an oppressed and injured people, bereft 
of their rights. 

No, it is not true, and no sophistry can make it appear 

2 



10 REASONS FOE THANKSGIVING. 

true, that the South is right and the North is wrong 
in the tremendous conflict, which is fast filling the 
land with widows and with orphans. Did I not believe 
in my heart, that the war on our part is a righteous one, 
entered upon strictly in self defence, not to encroach on 
others, but to uphold our very existence as a Union and 
a constitutional government, it would be no satisfaction to 
me to read of the glorious victories which have recently 
crowned our arms. Success based on fraud, and secured 
at the expense of trampling on the most sacred oaths 
and obligations, may dazzle and deceive for awhile, 
but in the end will come to nought. The people of the 
North declared their convictions in unmistakable tones, 
the moment they learned that the flag of the nation had 
been insulted, its treasures seized, its forts captured, and 
its authority set at defiance, and nothing has occurred 
to falsify these convictions. Not a few of those who 
had all along acted with the South, and were regarded, 
by way of emphasis, her friends, were compelled now 
by the sheer force, we trust, of honest reflection, openly 
to change ground. Thousands of the most earnest 
peace men were ready to say that the wicked strife 
could never, never cease until the stars and stripes of 
the old union were seen to float again over every city 
and fortress in the land. 

How was this, but from a conviction deeply fixed in 
every bosom, that the movement of the South was a 
rebellion of the worst possible sort, a rebellion against 
the most paternal government under heaven ! Subse- 



REASONS FOR THANKSGIVING. 11 

quent events, and especially the slow progress made in 
subduing those who had risen up against us, united with 
the adoption of certain measures which happened to be 
distasteful, because they happened to strike at a few 
bold and reckless breeders of sedition, changed the 
opinions of some, who, perhaps, were never very hearty 
in the cause. But could these things, however inexpe- 
dient, change the nature of great principles, or make 
fraud honesty 1 If the war was forced upon us, as Vice 
President Stephens in another place observes, by ambi- 
tious and disappointed politicians, how could a few 
incidental stretches of power on the part of the govern- 
ment, alter the case 1 The President was elected in 
all respects, according to due form of law, and an 
attempt to dismember the Union because he was 
supposed to hold particular political opinions, could be 
branded by no softer name than treason. So it is 
called by thousands of pure patriots and good men, and 
so it will be called when this war shall only be known 
as pages of history, on which posterity will bring in a 
verdict. 

Most fully do I believe, after looking at the subject 
in all its lights, that it was demanded of us by a high 
sense of duty to repel the attacks made, just as a man 
ought to defend his house against the midnight plun- 
derer. And what is there in such a contest like con- 
scious rectitude, or as the Apostle better expresses it, 
the testimony of a good conscience, to sustain the mind 
in the hour of trial. " I had rather be right than be 



12 REASONS FOR THANKSGIVING. 

President of the United States," was the noble remark 
of the great Henry Clay, and if we are only right in 
this fearful quarrel, we can bear temporary defeat and 
disaster, assured that in the end God will vindicate his 
ways to men. Is it not matter of -gratitude, then, that 
we do not wage war to destroy, but to preserve, not to 
dismember, but to keep together, not to overturn the 
government, but to uphold it? Were it not so we might 
well hang our heads for shame, and retire from this 
sacred place to smite upon our breasts and deprecate 
the anger of a righteous God. 

2. Lessons have been taught us incidentally since the 
war began, of great and permanent value. 

Our country is now going through an experience 
which must tell upon us for weal or woe during ages to 
come, and there is good reason to hope that the effect 
will be happy. God is chastising us very severely for 
our sins against himself, if not against our southern 
brethren ; but it is in mercy we trust, and not in wrath, 
lest we should be consumed. Days of severe and pro- 
tracted trial, are often the very days which establish 
principles, which form character, which correct abuses, 
which remove prejudices, and which show men what is 
in them of both good and evil. Individual life never 
grows into its full proportions, in the midst of ease and 
luxury, and self indulgence; and the same is true of 
the life of a nation. War sets hard tasks and inflicts 
heavy penalties, but like the storms which agitate the 



REASONS FOR THANKSGINING. 13 

air and destroy noxious vapors, it prepares the way for 
the enjoyment of a better peace, and a safer tranquillity. 
These troubles have taught us, for instance, as noth- 
ing else ever could, that government is of God, and that 
to resist it is to resist one of his express ordinances. It 
seems strange as we look back for a few months, that 
the people should have been so perfectly asleep on a 
point of such unspeakable importance.- Up to the very 
hour when the rebellion broke out, little was said, 
because little was thought of the clearly inculcated fad 
that submission to the powers which God has ordained, 
in everything not clearly condemned by the Bible, is 
one of the very first duties of Christians as well as citi- 
zens. Everything was going on so smoothly, that the 
pulpit was silent, and so was the fireside, and so was 
the school room, and so was the lecturer's desk. The 
ruled came into contact with their rulers at so few points, 
and these associated with demands on the one hand of 
so little consequence, and duties on the other so easily 
discharged, that the authority of government, as some- 
thing strong and tangible, and not to be resisted, was 
scarcely realized at all by one in a hundred of the 
people. With the single exception of making some 
change every four years, not so much of principles as 
of men, everything was suffered to go on very much 
in its own way. If the mass of the community might 
but buy and sell, and get gain, level forests, build ships. 
and lay railroad tracks, found cities, open new channels 
of trade, and fill still larger coffers, it seemed to be all 



14 SEASONS FOR THANKSGIVING. 

that was cared for. But the first wanton blow at the 
authority of the government, compelled the putting 
forth of every latent power, in assertion of its preroga- 
tives. Men began to think that something must be 
meant, far beyond what they had given themselves the 
trouble to enquire into, by magistrates holding the 
sword in such a way, as to be a terror to evil doers, 
and a praise to those that do well. More has been 
accomplished in this short space of time to educate the 
nation in this fundamental maxim, than had ever been 
done before. We are learning a lesson, it is hoped, so 
as never to need a repetition, on the true limits between 
personal liberty, and the authority which every govern- 
ment on earth must exercise, or be guilty of the crime 
of suicide. All must go by the board the moment it is 
admitted that any one man, or any combination of men 
may decide how far they shall obey, and when they 
may begin to disobey. 

Again, as the war progresses we are all, whatever our 
political creeds or preferences, fast learning to correct 
mistakes, into which all alike had fallen. Many a fond 
theory has been toppled over into the dust by the rough 
logic of the last two or three years' events. It was 
imagined at the North that the contest must be short, 
inasmuch as we had a vast superiority in numbers and 
wealth, and especially as there was a whole race in the 
South to which war would bring, it was supposed as a 
necessary consequence, the hope of chains burst and 
privileges of freemen enjoyed. Almost every one imag- 



REASONS FOE THANKSGIVING. 15 

hied that a few thousand soldiers summoned to the field, 
as on a kind of dress parade, would set matters right. 
Hardly could it be believed that three or four millions 
of people, with a single spark of true life in them, could 
be kept quietly toiling for men they called masters, 
while those very masters were exerting every nerve to 
establish an empire of which the perpetuity of bondage 
should be the chief corner-stone. Yet, so it has been. 
Equally mistaken were the people of the South in calcu- 
lating upon friends at the North to arrest the war at the 
very outset. It was their full belief, that they had such 
a host of cordial sympathizers in the border states, and 
even in New Jersey, New York, and New England, that 
it would be impossible for the armies of the Union to 
strike a, single effective blow. How could our money- 
loving people, said they, give up a traffic in which King 
Cotton figured so largely, and which was making so 
many merchants and manufacturers rich I But these 
illusions have been rudely swept away, on the one side 
as well as on the other, and it is perhaps matter of 
thanksgiving for all concerned to realize that it is so. 
Many a fog has been cleared off by the repeated tempests 
of the battle-field, never to settle upon us again, it is to 
be hoped, for generations to come. 

Let me name another lesson which loyal men, the 
land over, are rapidly learning, and it is to look upon 
the institution of neo-ro slavery in its only true light. 
So long as the South itself was content with privileges 
already enjoyed, and made no encroachments and 



16 REASONS FOR THANKSGIVING. 

indulged in no threats, nineteen-twentieths of the best 
people of the North felt bound to be silent, though it 
was of necessity the silence of grief and tears. The 
responsibility, more or less, was not on us, and we could 
not rudely burst the bonds of a solemn covenant to make 
an onset on the peace of those whom many a hallowed 
tradition taught us to regard as friends. Slavery we 
considered as something local and municipal, to be suf- 
fered where it was, if so its patrons determined, but not 
to be spread over the land, with the privilege of reducing 
every square mile into subserviency to itself. But we 
have entered upon a new era, in reference to the colored 
man, and it has been opened, mark the mysterious prov- 
idence of God, by the very men who meant not so, neither 
did their heart think so. Not that we intend to become 
constitution-breakers, and do evil that good may come, 
but how altered is the face of things. It is a solemn 
fact, whether contemplated with pleasure or with pain, 
that two or three years of war have changed more 
minds in reference to the condition of this unhappy 
people, than half a century before did. The thing is 
done, and, what is more, the South has done it, and done 
it in opposition to every sort of entreaty and remon- 
strance. Many a wealthy man in Kentucky, Missouri, 
Tennessee and North Carolina, as well as Maryland and 
Western Virginia, has been heard to say, "Well, if it 
has come to this, that slavery or the country must perish, 
then perish slavery, root and branch." God is working 
out, in his own wonderful way, a solution of the 



REASONS FOR THANKSGIVING. 17 

mighty problem, and our part is to stand still and see 
his salvation. The poor creatures, even when called free, 
may be robbed, knocked down by bludgeons, hung upon 
lamp posts, and consumed by fire, but as sure as there is 
justice in heaven, these savage cruelties will hasten on 
the arrival of a brighter day. 

Such are some of the ideas impressed upon hundreds 
and thousands of minds by the progress of the war, and 
who will say they are not likely to remain ! It is im- 
possible to tell what a day, much less, what a month, or 
a. year may bring forth, but thus much is certain, it will 
be hard to recede, or fall again into practical indifference 
as to these grand fundamental principles which must 
affect the welfare of this nation through all future time. 
Points have been secured, eminences occupied, vantage 
ground gained, from which things will be looked upon 
in new lights, and seen under new and better aspects. 
No change of administration, no fresh combination of 
parties, no curious freak of political horoscoping, will be 
likely to turn back the nation's sun-dial, for either fifteen 
or five years. 

3. Positive victories, which we hope will tend to restore 
the blessings of peace to our distracted country, have been 
gained. 

This is the end which every good and true man must 
desire, and the attainment of it, upon any just and proper 
basis, would fill the land with a universal outburst of 
thanksgiving. Not only are our leading statesmen la- 
boring to secure an object on every account so important, 
3 



18 REASONS FOR THANKSGIVING. 

but it is the burden of ten thousand prayers offered up 
from the sacred desk ; it is the rich boon entreated of 
God at millions of family altars, and, in closets without 
number, it is sought as a blessing of almost priceless 
value. The Country is agitated and needs rest; the 
sword is drawn, but why should it devour forever \ There 
are thousands of desolate firesides already, and who can 
wish them multiplied l It is solely with a -view to the 
returning quiet and tranquillity of this great and mighty 
nation, that we can hear of success gained, amidst the 
smoke, and carnage, and death, of dismantled forts, and 
sunken ships, and slaughtered multitudes, with expres- 
sions of gratitude to God. The result cannot be secured 
in any other way, it would seem, and if peace is ever 
enjoyed among us again, it must be purchased, sad to 
say, with blood. 

There are those, who either cannot or will not make a 
distinction here, and because we thank God for victory, 
they affirm that we delight in seeing the land filled with 
desolated habitations and new made graves. Let me set 
such people right/by a reference to the late Commodore 
Foote, a name which will be repeated in all coming time 
as that of a man who knew how to combine patriotism 
and piety, and whose loyalty to the flag of his country 
never led him into disloyalty to the government of 
God. I love to think of the gallant man, standing fear- 
lessly on the deck of his vessel, amidst a hail-storm of 
shell and ball, but I love even more to think of him, as 
supplying the place of a tardy preacher, rather than have 



REASONS VOK THANKSGIVING. 19 

the people go away unfed with the bread of life. On 
one occasion, just before the actual breaking out of hos- 
tilities, the Commodore attended a religious service, held 
with special reference to the state of our public affairs, 
and was asked to offer the concluding prayer. After 
presenting petition upon petition, to the Father of mer- 
cies, that he would spare the land the horrors of civil 
war, if consistent with his holy will, he closed with these 
memorable words. "If thy purposes cannot otherwise 
be accomplished, let the sword, O Almighty God, have 
its way." The war hastened the noble Commander to 
his better In >me in heaven, but his memory is embalmed 
in myriads of grateful hearts, and will be fragrant so 
long as the sun and moon endure. 

Why may not a Christian minister speak of victories 
on the field of battle, and speak of them, to a Christian 
people, yea, and speak of them, as matters of devout 
gratitude to the ruler of the universe ? \> there nothing 
to be grateful for in the discomfiture of the proud con- 
federate legions by Rosecrans in Tennessee, and in the 
expulsion of the desperate invaders of Pennsylvania by 
Meade, and in the opening of the great Mississippi to 
the commerce of the West by Grant, Banks, Farragut 
and Porter I Are we to cherish no emotions of grati- 
tude, when such a marauder as Morgan is caught in 
his own net, and sent off with his whole staff to prison, 
as hostages for the proper treatment of better men I 
June closed upon us with clouds of almost midnight 
darkness, may not good people rejoice and give thanks 



20 REASONS FOR THANKSGIVING. 

for the light which beamed out over the land as July 
opened ? For one, I am free to say. that I have not so 
read the song of Moses at the Red Sea, or the inspiriting 
notes of the martial poet David, nor have I so read the 
memoirs of our own revolutionary struggle, embracing 
a galaxy of fair names, both in church and state, such 
as the sun has seldom looked upon. But it is said, to 
repress our thanksgiving and abate our joy, have not 
those successes been purchased at the price of desolated 
habitations, and maimed limbs, and prematurely made 
graves 1 Does not the wife mourn for her husband 
and the father of her helpless babes, and the mother for 
the son on whose arm she hoped to lean in her old ace, 
and the blushing maiden for him who told her of the 
happy days they would have together when the strife 
should cease ? All this is true, and true to an extent 
which no eye but that of God can see. But yet, it may 
be affirmed with no fear of successful contradiction, 
that the price, large as it is, is not too large to pay for 
the sought for blessing. Man has something to do in 
the world besides merely building a house, and rearing 
a family, and making a will, and tying down in the 
grave. You reduce him to a condition of littleness and 
insignificance, if you disjoin his heart from the land of 
his fathers' sepulchres, and the government which pro- 
tects him, and the church where he worships. 

All this, I admit, is to be valued mainly because of 
its anticipated connection with the return of peace ; but 
in the mean time attendant benefits are secured of great 



REASONS FOR THANKSGIVING. 21 

importance. Not to dwell on other things which must 
occur to every thoughtful mind, is it nothing that the 
hammer of the auctioneer in human blood and bones is 
no longer heard to fall in the District of Columbia, that 
Liberia and Hayti are recognized as kingdoms of the 
earth, that every foot of the territory of the country yet 
to be occupied, is to be held sacred for the abode of 
freemen, and above all, and more than all, that the idea 
is at length admitted, that man is a man, without respect 
to the color of his skin. Is it not well to know at last, 
that Grod has made of one blood all nations of men, and 
that all have one Father and one Saviour ? These points, 
thank God, are secured, and Avho will venture to affirm 
that they are not the product of seed which nothing but 
the storm of war could cause to germinate I Let peo- 
ple judge as they may about the expediency of some of 
the measures to put down rebellion, the hour is gone 
by, not to return again, when the discussion of such 
topics will be hindered whenever and wherever it is 
deemed expedient. 

Still, the question is asked, and asked with an air of 
triumph, what has the Administration done in thirtv 
months, with all its boundless appliances, to terminate 
the quarrel ? Less, it must be admitted in reply, less 
than might have been reasonably expected, and much 
less than they would have done had not our armies 
been sometimes entrusted to unfaithful and incompetent 
hands, and especially had not the wheels of government 
often been clogged by men in loyal States, with disloyal 



22 REASONS FOR THANKSGIVING. 

hearts. It is distressing to say this, but truth impels me 
to say it. Let not the clamor of mere impatience of 
speedy results, or the animosity felt for the President or 
his Cabinet, close our eyes to things as they actually 
are. When the war began, we had neither an army 
nor navy, nor treasury; a debt of a hundred millions of 
dollars had been incurred, in a time of profound peace, 
eleven states openly unfurled the flag of insurrection 
while four more were held in doubt which side to take, 
and such was the bitterness of feeling towards Abraham 
Lincoln, that he had to go through Baltimore, on his 
way to Washington, in disguise, to avoid the dirk of 
the assassin. It was loudly and boastfully declared, 
that the new government should never be inaugurated, 
come what might. But, behold, what has God wrought X 
The four doubtful States are confirmed in their prefer- 
ence for the old Union, five of those which joined the 
Confederacy are controlled by the presence of powerful 
armies, and strong fortresses and footholds are possessed 
in four more, reducing the area of actual rebellion to 
less than one third of what it was at first. In the mean 
time we have built up a navy able to compete with that 
of the mightiest potentate on earth, and have an army 
equal to any emergency. 

If this, then, be true history, and if it be admitted 
that our national life and honor are worth preserving, 
we surely can find reason for the heartiest ascriptions of 
praise unto God. Only let the government go on with 
the advantage which mistakes and reverses have given, 



REASONS FOR THANKSGIVING. 23 

in dependence on the blessing of heaven, and what may 
we not hope for in a twelve month to come I With the 
Confederacy as such, we have nothing- in the world to 
do, but with the States composing it, we may expect to 
accomplish much. If all auguries do not fail, it would 
not be at all surprising to find North Carolina, Louisiana 
and even Mississippi, soon following the lead of Western 
Virginia, and Missouri, to seek repose in the bosom of 
a Union from which they never had an earthly reason 
to withdraw. When that day comes, the few remaining 
gulf States may be dealt with and done with as well con- 
sidered policy shall judge wisest and best- 
There is therefore nothing left us to do, but go for- 
ward, and put down the rebellion at the earliest possible 
moment, and in the most effectual possible way. How 
can we falter now, when Cod has so manifestly answered 
our prayers, and our brethren in the field call upon us 
in tones of deep and tender earnestness, to share with 
them the sufferings and the glory of bringing the quarrel 
to a speedy close. It is the work, as I believe in my 
inmost soul, which Cod gives us to do, and to pause in 
it Would prove us recreant to the best interests of the 
land, and of the world. We have put our hand to the 
plow, not because we delight in the scenes of carnage 
and desolation, which always follow in the track of war, 
but because necessity is laid upon us, and every con- 
sideration that can be addressed to pious and patri- 
otic hearts, says, go forward until the last vestige of 
rebellion is wiped out, and the Union restored in all its 



24 REASONS FOR THANKSGIVING. 

former glory and power. It is a burden imposed upon 
us, in the righteous providence of God, and posterity 
will utter no blessing on our name, if we do not bear it 
manfully. We owe it to the welfare of the disloyal 
States themselves, now almost utterly impoverished and 
ruined, to hasten the blessed consummation by every 
effort which strength and courage shall enable us to put 
forth. 

To pause, at the present juncture, and waste golden 
opportunities in harsh and indiscriminate condemnation 
of men and measures, is only to prolong the conflict. 
It is unquestionably our privilege, as American citizens, 
to disapprove of what we honestly deem wrong, and 
palsied be the hand that would strike this privilege 
down, but let us not forget that there is a broad distinc- 
tion between liberty and anarchy. A lesson has recent- 
ly been set us on this subject, in the chief city of the 
Union, which ought to suffice, for at least a century. 
Ambitious and self-designing men may learn from this 
new instance, that they cannot make harangues, in 
which the Chief Magistrate of the nation and the mem- 
bers of his Cabinet are abused in language of coarse and 
vulgar malignity, unlit to be repeated in a bar-room, 
without producing a woeful effect upon the excitable 
multitude. If they manage to keep out of harm's way 
themselves, others are urged on to robbery, arson, and 
murder, by the countenance thus given. No one can 
sow to the wind, without reaping the whirlwind, and 
the whirlwind once raised and started on its desolating 



REASONS FOR THANKSGIVING. 25 

course, may reach the agitator, as well as the quiet, or- 
derly citizen. Archbishop Hughes is reported to have 
made a remark, in reference to the late riots in New- 
York, which cannot be too seriously laid to heart. "The 
men," said he, "who have been engaged in this work of 
desolation, are not half as guilty as are the demagogues 
who, night after night, have been lately addressing the 
most inflammatory appeals to their prejudices and pas- 
sions." 

It is impossible for the best government in the world 
to satisfy everybody, especially at such exciting times as 
those now passing over our heads, but surely it is wise 
to gather instruction from what has been, in order to 
determine what will be. Now, does not history tell tales 
about the tories of the Revolution, and the Hartford 
Convention men of eighteen hundred and twelve, which 
might be read with profit in our day ? If the Country 
ever raises monuments for her sons, believe me, it will 
be for those who stood by her in the hour of peril, and 
preferred her welfare above their chief joy, and not for 
those who deserted her standard, and sought to hinder 
the enrollment of her hosts. A few more well directed 
efforts, we hope, will end the contest, and shall we let 
the golden chance slip, by stopping to split hairs on 
certain minor points 1 We have had our times of ease, 
but now the command, as it seems to me, from the Lord 
of Hosts himself, is, "order ye the buckler and shield, 
harness the horses, stand forth with your helmets, fur- 
bish the spears, and put on the brigandines, and draw 



26 REASONS FOR THANKSGIVING. 

near to battle." There is every -reason to believe, that a 
united North would soon witness a repentant and re- 
turning South. The people of the seceding states, as 
a mass, had no voice in unfurling the standard of rebel- 
lion, but we trust they will soon have a voice, not to be 
disregarded, in renewing their allegiance to the Stars 
and Stripes. 

There is one encouraging fact, encouraging to the 
men at the head of our affairs, as well as to those who 
fight our battles, and it is that the ministers of religion 
of all denominations, are so earnest and cordial in their 
patriotism. Never was it so before, at least to the same 
extent. With a unanimity perfectly surprising, have 
they sent up to the Chief Magistrate address upon ad- 
dress, pledging, themselves, before God and the people, 
to stand by the government, in this anxious hour, and 
give it their sympathies and prayers. If there be a few 
dissenting voices, as I am sorry to admit there are, they 
are only the exception to the rule. 

As for myself I early took ground, as you well know, 
which I have never since abandoned, and through the 
whole struggle I have never lost hope as to the result. 
Though the rebellion is gigantic in its dimensions, and 
waged with the desperate fury of men who are fully 
aware that failure will consign them to the ignominy of 
an Arnold, it will, with the blessing of Almighty God, 
be put down, and upon its ruins will a reinvigorated 
Union arise, to exert a more blessed influence than ever 
upon the destinies of the world. With heart within, and 



a 



a 



REASONS FOR THANKSGIVING. 27 

God above, there is nothing to fear. But let the issue be 
what it may, I am resolved,- as I shall obtain help from 
heaven, to adhere to the fortunes of my country to the 
very last. If I leave nothing else to my descendants, 
they shall never have it to say that their father dishon- 
ored his gray hairs by yielding to the demands of men, 
who. in the very face of the most solemn pledges and 
oaths, are seeking to destroy a government which never 
did any thing else than shed blessing on the heads of 
its citizens. 

In the mean time be careful to do nothing, by word or 
act. which may tend to engender bitter feelings among 
loyal men, to whatever political party they happen to 
belong. Some of the bravest and ablest defenders of 
the country have been from the ranks of the so-called 
opposers of the administration. They do not style 
themselves Republicans, and yet on the vessel's deck, 
and on the field of battle, they have proved as firm as 
rocks for the nation's honor, and the preservation of the 
nation's boundaries. Give all such men your hands and 
embrace them as -good and tried friends. Insist upon 
no condition but love to the union, and a determination, 
at all hazards, to prevent its dismemberment, before 
giving them your confidence. Only let there be now 
a long pull, and a strong pull, and a pull all together, 
and we shall soon have occasion to say. with an emphasis 
to which the late signal victories have furnished a happy 
prelude, " The right hand of the Lord is exalted, the 
right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly." 






28 



REASONS FOR THANKSGIVING. 



This will give the wise and good of all lands fresh 
confidence in free institutions, and from one end of the 
world to the other, will arise a voice like the sound of 
many waters, Long live the Republic of the United States ! 
Amen and amen.